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Page:The despatches of Hernando Cortes.djvu/34

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16 INTRODUCTIOX. nor wished to send some one else at his own individual charge, he might do it ; but as for himself, he had the license of the royal audience and intended to improve it. He then repaired to his friends and the principal persons who intended to em- bark with him, to see if after the refusal of Velasquez he could still rely upon them ; and when he found their confidence un- shaken, he continued his preparations, borrowing money for the purpose, to the amount of 4000 pesos of gold from Andres de Duero, Pedro de Xerez, Antonio de Santa Clara, mer- chants in Cuba, and others. With the means thus furnished, he purchased two ships, six horses, and much clothing ; he also kept open doors, and appeared in public fully armed and attended by a numerous retinue. Velasquez was evidently piqued on seeing the vigorous measures taken by Cortes in equipping his expedition, and his success in drawing men into his service, amongst whom were many of those who had returned with Grijalva ; but he was unable to check him, for if he had un- dertaken to disturb his arrangements, it would have led to a commotion in the city, and perhaps to bloodshed ; he therefore dissembled his feelings. In the mean time, Cortes hastened his departure ; he proclaimed that he went on his own account alone, and told the soldiers that they had nothing to do with Diego Velasquez ; he also bade them lay in their own pro- visions to the extent of their means. Having taken on board a lot of hogs and sheep, for which he gave the owner a chain of gold in payment, he set sail from Saint Jago on the 18th of November, with about 300 Spaniards in six ships. The expedition was but poorly supplied with provisions for so many men, and Cortes found it necessary immediately after quitting St. Jago, (which he left somewhat hastily on account of the temper of the governor,) to despatch a caravel to Jamaica to procure a further supply, with orders to rejoin the fleet at Cape Corrientes, or Point St. Antonio, which is the northern extremity of Cuba. In the mean time, the rest of the ships sailed to Macaca, on the southern coast of the island, where Cortes purchased three hundred cargas of bread* and

  • A carga or load was 50 lbs., being the amount of burthen assigned to an

Indian. A mule load was of course more.